A Better Life with Batteries – The 18650 Battery, the Standard of Cylindrical Batteries

Cylindrical batteries have the most familiar shape of batteries. Among them, the 18650 battery had its heyday in the 2000s and is still widely used in our daily lives.

It is the battery that represents the beginning and present of cylindrical batteries.

The 18650 Battery for Camcorders

The beginning of cylindrical batteries goes back to the early 1990s. They were first commercialized in Japan. The first model of 14500 that has the same size with an AA battery and 20500 that is as big as nickel-cadmium and nickel-hydrogen batteries were designed to be compatible with the primary battery.

However, the sizes of both batteries were not right for camcorders, the main product rechargeable batteries were mostly used for. Thus, the 18650 cylindrical battery, which is 18mm in diameter and 65 mm in height, was born. Its size was suitable for camcorders designed to hold in one hand.

Enjoying Its Heyday in the 2000s

Batteries made their way into laptops and mobile phones in earnest in the 2000s. The market for small batteries surged from 900 million cells in 2002 to 3.1 billion cells in 2008, a 24% year-on-year growth.

Among the batteries, the 18650 batteries were especially popular for their small size, lightweightness, high energy density, and safety. Moreover, price competitiveness, enabled by the standardization and mass-production, was another reason for the popularity.

The Explosive Growth of the Small but Strong 18650 Battery

Around 2010, mobile devices got smaller, bringing a change in battery shapes from cylindrical to pouch types and temporarily pushing down the demand for the 18650 cells. However, its price competitiveness and mass producibility helped the battery regain attention.

Now, battery packs with 18650 cylindrical battery cells are being used widely for many electric vehicles such as electric bikes, electric motorcycles, and golf carts. The advent of micromobility that helps travel short distances enabled cylindrical batteries to make a remarkable comeback.

The Emergence of the 21700 Battery Following the 18650 Battery

In 2017, a cylindrical battery of a new standard was invented: the 21700 that measures 21 mm in diameter and 70 mm in height. It is possible to make a battery pack of desired capacity by putting in fewer batteries compared to the 18650 model.

So far, we have investigated the 18650 battery, the standard of cylindrical batteries. These days, next-generation cylindrical batteries such as the 21700 battery are emerging. Can these batteries succeed in making a generational shift of cylindrical batteries or the 18650 battery will gain attention in the new market again?